Many front-line staff lack support and training at work, survey reveals

    Nearly half of front-line workers and their managers think they are
    inadequately supported and trained, and more than half would fear
    for their job if they blew the whistle on bad practice at work, new
    findings reveal.

    Community Care‘s website survey of more than 200 staff
    working in the sector finds that only 54 per cent receive the
    support and training necessary to enable them to perform to the
    best of their ability.

    Only 46 per cent believe their job would be safe if they blew the
    whistle on a colleague.

    Racism is also an issue. Seven out of 10 respondents claim they or
    their colleagues have been subjected to racist behaviour by either
    service users or other members of staff.

    Working long hours appears to be the norm. More than 70 per cent of
    staff work up to 10 hours extra a week on top of their official
    hours. Only one in 10 say they arrive and leave work on time.

    The survey shows that, from the staff perspective, only 55 per cent
    of employing organisations encourage membership of a trade union,
    while just under two-thirds of those who do belong to a union
    believe membership is useful.

    Owen Davies, senior national officer for local government at public
    sector trade union Unison, said he was not surprised by the
    findings in relation to racism, long hours and whistle-blowing.

    Although some employers recognised the value and benefits of trade
    union membership, he said others tried to weaken the unions “for
    reasons of either ignorance or malice”.

    The survey also shows that one-third of respondents are now
    co-located with other professionals, of whom more than
    three-quarters say the change has improved joint working. The move
    reflects the government’s push for greater integration.

    Improved pay offer tabled

    The deadlock between unions and employers over the pay deal for
    local government workers could be broken after employers improved
    their offer to staff at a meeting in London last week. The
    employers have replaced their offer of 7 per cent over three years
    with a rise of 2.75 per cent in 2004, followed by 2.95 per cent in
    2005 and in 2006. Members will vote on the offer next month.

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